MIL-OSI USA: Booker Introduces Bill to Combat High Rate of Heart Disease Among South Asian Americans

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US Senate News:

Source: United States Senator for New Jersey Cory Booker

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senator Cory Booker (D-NJ) introduced legislation that would establish a grant program aimed at strengthening cardiovascular research, promoting heart disease awareness, and improving health outcomes in the South Asian community in honor of American Heart Month. The South Asian Heart Health Awareness Act would raise awareness about the alarming rates of heart disease for South Asians across the United States while also improving resources for all communities disproportionately impacted by cardiovascular diseases. U.S. Representatives Pramila Jayapal (D-WA-07) and Joe Wilson (R-SC-02)  introduced companion legislation in the House last year. 

“Despite the heightened prevalence of cardiovascular diseases among South Asians, their risk for heart disease is not widely understood by the medical community,” said Senator Booker. “This bill is an important step toward promoting critical research on heart disease, and supporting organizations working to improve heart health for at-risk communities across the nation. To reduce the impact of cardiovascular disease nationally, it is essential to invest in research into communities that are disproportionately at risk.”

“I have seen the devastating impacts of heart disease on our community firsthand, and as the first South Asian American woman ever elected to the House of Representatives, I’m fully committed to increasing understanding of heart disease and the unique risk factor in the South Asian community while ensuring that all those living with it get the resources, treatment, and support they need,” said Representative Jayapal. “No community should face disproportionate health outcomes because of lack of research, understanding, or awareness. I won’t stop fighting for this legislation to make sure we have the research resources and treatments to prevent heart disease cases and deaths in the South Asian community and across the world.”

“Heart disease disproportionately affects certain populations such as the South Asian community, and this bill will expand research and education to benefit those communities. I am grateful that this bipartisan bill passed the house in multiple previous Congresses, and I look forward to its final passage into law,” said Representative Joe Wilson.

Communities of color are disproportionately affected by heart disease with South Asian Americans being particularly at risk. The South Asian community has both the highest death rate from heart disease and the highest rate of Type 2 diabetes at lower body weights compared to other racial and ethnic groups. Despite the prevalence of cardiovascular diseases among South Asians, their risk for heart disease is not widely understood by the medical community. This contributes to a lack of preventative measures being taken which could improve the community’s heart health.

Specifically, the South Asian Heart Health Awareness Act would appropriate $2 million for each fiscal year between 2025 and 2029 in planning and implementing grants. These grants can be used to:

  • Develop culturally appropriate materials on topics related to heart health including nutrition, diet planning, and exercise.
  • Support heart health promotion activities in community organizations which work with disproportionately affected communities.
  • Support research conferences or workshops on research practices, methodologies, and designs which include more members of communities disproportionately affected by heart disease in scientific studies.
  • Conduct research into cardiovascular disease, Type 2 diabetes, and other ailments affecting at-risk populations.

The full text of the bill can be found here.